Fans would assume that touring requires tons of attention—months of rehearsals so as to not catch on fire during a particularly wild show. Yet the members of metalcore band August Burns Red tend to approach their tours with ease—but that’s not the case this time around. With new songs and their choice to revisit old favorites, they decided that everything needed an extra push.
These guys, however, know what they’re doing when it comes to music. Nearly half the band has been together since 2003 when they were still finishing up their high school degrees. It shows that they’ve bonded with the clear cut chemistry on stage and off. Writing and touring may be difficult for some bands, but the musicians here have no trouble hanging around each other for weeks on end.
So, what do these guys do while on tour? How do they handle the lengthy road trips and long nights? I was able to speak with rhythm guitarist Brent Rambler just as the tour began and he filled me in on how they handle being on the road and how they keep out of trouble.
How did you guys prep for the tour?
We actually practiced a lot for this tour. Usually, we come in a couple of days early and just jam and just play together and everyone’s been practicing at home. But this tour, we’re playing a song that we haven’t played in a long time, we’re playing a song we’ve never played before, and there’s some instrument changes in there, so we wanted to get it all down pat before we left before the tour. So, we actually started practicing two weeks before the tour started every day. We’ve just been prepping like that, I guess (laughs). Fairly normal stuff.
How’d the first show go?
It went well. Nothing horrible happened, which is always great. It’s the first show of the tour. We haven’t played a show in two and a half months, so we expected a little bit of sloppiness. We’re not acclimated to running around the stage, playing the songs that we haven’t played in a long time, but it takes a show or two to kick in, but we’re just happy that this show went well—nothing bad happened, no one stopped playing, nothing cut out, nothing broke or anything like that, so it was a good first show.
That’s great! You started off in New Jersey, but you’re coming back around for the last few dates, right?
Yep! You’ll get the last show of the tour, which is usually one of the better ones.
How’s the traveling been going? You were just in Jersey, and now you’re in Virginia?
Yes. We drove to Virginia last night—well, I slept through it. The bus driver drove. But we woke up this morning, probably around 8:30. It was a good drive, I guess. I didn’t hear or feel any rumbling or anything like that. So, I got up, went to the gym, went to a comic book store, ate lunch… I’ve been having a nice, solid day so far.
Oh! You’re into comics?
I am. I like Why The Last Man. But I’m not a big superhero comic kinda guy. I like graphic novel kind of stories and things like that.
Those are fun! So, what’s one venue you’re really psyched about?
Well, the venue today is National in Richmond and it’s one of the most beautiful venues in America as far as a band our size will play. It’s incredible. The stage is amazing and the actual venue is gorgeous. So, we’re really excited to play at this one. We don’t play it too often because Richmond isn’t a market that you hit up a whole lot, so it’s a nice treat. I’m very excited to be in Denver. The venue is smack in the middle of everything, so that’s awesome. As far as New York goes, I’ve never played the Webster Hall. I don’t think I’ve ever been to the Webster Hall. So, we’ll see how that is. And then in Philly, we have the Fillmore, which is that beautiful new venue, so I’m really excited to play there.
I know touring is exhausting and it’s easy to get sick—when you do, how do you handle touring while being under the weather?
We pretty much go with the quarantine thing (laughs). Like, you stay in your bunk, everybody gets Clorox wipes… Usually if someone gets sick, they’re not the last, unfortunately. The tour sickness spreads like crazy. It’s almost like, if someone gets it, you just walk up to them and be like, “Just cough on me and get it over with.” (Laughs)
Well how do you handle playing when sick?
It really depends on what kind of sickness you have. You can either have the cold or the flu, but if you have the stomach bug, that’s a whole different story. The last time that that happened, our singer, Jake [Luhrs], got it. And we were supposed to play in Cincinnati. Obviously, a singer can’t perform with the stomach bug. It’s just not gonna happen. People were like, after the show, “Michael Jordan scored 40 points and he had a fever of 102,” and I’m like: “A, Michael Jordan didn’t have the stomach bug. B, he was playing for the championships.”
So we had one of the singers from another band come up and learn some songs with us. So half of the show was us playing songs instrumentally and the other half, we had another singer come in. It was kinda cool. But as a vocalist, there’s no way you’re getting around the stomach bug. You throw up on one kid in the crowd and who knows what kind of lawsuit you’re going to be handling (laughs). But, I mean, I think people are down with that if it’s Gwar and it’s fake…
Good point. What’s one thing you can’t be on tour without? Aside from the instruments.
Obviously your cell phone is a big thing, sadly. When you lose your cell phone, it’s like your arm got chopped off when you’re on tour. It’s how you talk to your family and everything. That’s one thing. But for me, if I would lose my Kindle, I’d be really bummed because I read a lot and it’s like my hideaway. I can just crawl in my bunk and hang. That would be a pretty big deal if I got separated from my Kindle. I don’t know what I would do—I’d probably have to go buy a new one.
Oh no! What do you like to read?
All kinds of stuff! I read comics and I really like to read Joe Hill. He’s got this great book called “Horns.” And “Heart-Shaped Box” is a great one. But I like Joe Hill. I’ve been trying to figure out what to read next. I haven’t really decided yet…
I love him! When you’re writing music, what’s the process like?
As far as writing goes, the other guitarist JB [Brubaker] handles a lot. He makes his share, then we pass it around and tab it, which you can do to add all of these other kinds of sounds to it and we just email it to everyone. Then they can see it, they can change it, they can add corrects to their own part… That’s an easy way to do it, but since it’s archaic, it sounds like a video game at first. We do that and then we get together in the studio and start playing the songs together. We’re not really a jam kind of band. Once we’re in the studio, we’re pretty much finished with the songs. Then we can just take our time and make sure the songs are how we want them. Then, as far as the vocals go, myself, Jake, and our drummer, Matt [Greiner], write most of the lyrics. We write them and then they all get submitted to the band and everyone votes and picks the ones they like the most… It’s a nice, democratic process.
Have you ever tried to write on tour?
We don’t really do that (laughs). Obviously, I’m writing lyrics a lot of the time. Like when something happens, good or bad, I write it down and then go back to it and form a song out of it. But we don’t really write on the road. That’s not something we do. To me, it’s not a good environment.
That makes sense. I saw that you guys were nominated for a Grammy this past year! What does that mean to you?
It was definitely weird! It wasn’t something that we’d ever really expect. Obviously, they have the Rock and Metal category every year, but our style is way more underground than the metal bands that they nominate like Metallica. So the fact that they gave our genre a nod was strange enough! It was such a shock. We had been asked to be on the Grammy committee earlier this year, but we were like, “no… You guys don’t really pay attention to our kind of music anyway.” But then six months later, we were nominated for a Grammy! (Laughs) It was out of nowhere. We didn’t even know we were considered. The process is crazy! You’ve got the committee and there’s a big list of songs already and they vote for the nominees and then it comes down to that.
Don’t miss these guys as they pull into The Fillmore on April 15 and Webster Hall on April 17. For more information on these musicians, check them out at augustburnsred.com.